Adapting to this school year is going to be unlike any other year thus far. In some ways, it’s hard not to feel like a first year teacher again. And if you are a first-year teacher this year, know that you are taking on an unprecedented challenge and we are all learning with you!
With every challenge comes an opportunity to learn and grow as teachers. We continually adapt and grow throughout the school year. Whether it’s making tweaks to our instructional style to fit a student’s needs or trying out a new reading series, teachers are pros at continuing to learn and make changes.
This story of this school year is that it is different for every teacher. Some are teaching 100% virtually, others are in their classrooms 50% of the time, and some even are back to school full-time with safety precautions implemented. Of course, things can change weekly, too! In a few years, I know that we’ll all look back on the 2020-2021 school year and see the difficulties, but also the beauty that came from it.
If you’re a distance learning teacher this year, whether or not it’s by choice, I know that there are a million questions and thoughts going through your head. I put together a list of ideas that will hopefully help and more than anything, know that you are supported and you’ve got this!
Tips for Distance Learning
Transitioning into the unknown can be intimidating so I have come up with a few simple tips to help you get through this school year!
Be Understanding and Patient – Not only with students, parents, and co-workers, but especially with yourself. What works one day might not work the next. Remember that you have the ability to do this. We’re all dealing with this crazy time in lots of personal ways, so grace and patience – with others and yourself – goes a long way.
Stay Social – If you are one of the many that will have significantly decreased social interaction throughout the school year, be sure to make time to incorporate it into your week. Whether you have a Zoom meeting with other kindergarten teachers or co-workers or even just your family and friends, it will provide you with that social interaction that we all need in our lives. Virtual happy hours on Fridays are a fun idea that can bring people together. And yes, I’m speaking from experience on that one! 🙂
Create a Schedule – Structure is important to students and teachers alike. Of course, you’ll have a daily schedule for your students and instruction, but I suggest going beyond that. Set time aside for lesson planning, Zoom meetings, professional development, and anything else that can provide you with a sense of normalcy. I used to grab a Diet Coke during my first plan period, so if you have a “tradition” like that, see if you can incorporate it into your day! It’s silly, but it’s something to look forward to and helps add structure.
Get Moving – Even if it’s walking a few laps around the house or doing a 30-minute yoga class online, getting up and moving around is a good thing! I always feel more energized and positive when I take time to get my blood pumping.
Be Prepared! – Having resources and activities that directly correlate with distance learning can make your life so much easier. These resources require little prepping and cover things you were probably planning to teach anyway. Contrary to popular belief, teachers don’t have to do everything and it’s okay to have a little help!
Distance Learning Resources
When it comes to incorporating the best activities and resources for Back to School time for kindergarten, I’d suggest doing a hybrid of online and hands-on activities if you’re able. Although there is so much you can do on a device, there’s something so important about young learners having the ability to complete an activity with crayons, pencils, and paper. For example, you can read a story to your students virtually, but have them print some assigned pages from my Back to School Activity pack to complete at home.
Side note: I always allow teachers to share my resources with parents and caregivers of their students, so feel free to make packets or email my resources to them!
One of my newest resources was designed with 2020 in mind. Many teachers can’t use traditional morning work tubs this year, so I created Morning Activities that are perfect for in-person or virtual teaching. If you’re a distance teacher, students can still complete one of the activities as a learning “warm-up” each morning. Simply share the activities with parents. Then use the Powerpoint slides (either through your virtual teaching platform or by sending them to parents) and allow students to complete the activity. These are a fabulous tool to increase student independence because the activities are simple and have visual instructions. Activities like these will motivate and encourage students to see that they can complete activities independently, even from a distance.
Another resource is BOOM Cards! BOOM Cards require no prep other than assigning them to students. It might not always be possible for students to have a printed activity in front of them that allows you to check their understanding. BOOM Cards are the perfect solution in that they’re usually very targeted toward a specific skill and they typically only take 5-10 minutes to complete. Plus, they’re colorful and exciting for children! Click here to see all of my BOOM Card sets on TpT.